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Post  DebraRatt on Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:29 am

Time Out New York
October 1999

Jeremy Northam, an actor with three movies out this year, is quite literally waiting to take off. As bright light bounces off the walls of the prefab trailer that is the 30th Street heliport, he and several goggly-eyed out-of-towners are arranged in lines of six, preparing for a helicopter tour of Manhattan. Although Northam has spent a lot of time in NYC on various press trips and movie shoots, he’s never seen the city as he will today--from above...Unshaven, eyes hidden behind sunglasses, the actor then leans down, smiles and says, “I hope I don’t barf all over you.”
It’s a rather abrupt turn in the conversation, which had previously covered around The Aeneid and Henry James’s The Golden Bowl, the book upon which one of his future projects is based. But even now, Northam comes off utterly charming--not an easy task given that he’s got a screaming-yellow inflatable life vest strapped to his belly.

Having three movies open in one year is, as Northam explains, “a good thing.” But participating in publicity tours (and enduring the often inane questions of reporters) can be exasperating for someone as intelligent as he is. The son of a respected Ibsen scholar who taught at Cambridge, Northam has just read Virgil, Homer et al--he’s read in the original, having studied Greek and Latin to A Levels. He memories a poem almost daily just for kicks.
Obviously, he could deflect annoying inquiries with a witty remark. Instead, when asked about a reported contretemps between himself and Ideal Husband costar Rupert Everett, he replied, “I never, ever, ever EVER had a tiff with Rupert” and then falls completely silent. At another point, he’s asked about the current state of his love life (the 37-year old bachelor recently broke up with a girlfriend of nine years) and simply cuts off the line of inquiry with “No...no...no.” Because he feels a responsibility to consider--even if he won’t answer--the peskiest of questions, he ends up over-thinking things, becoming curt and impatient when the conversation shifts from talk of books and clever anecdotes to rumors.

Still, the clouds lift quickly enough. Northam is too preternaturally charming not to win over almost anyone, even someone who has just spent an awkward silence waiting for him to reengage. “Well, you can’t take it too seriously,” he says finally about the gossip, signaling that his mood has passed, before launching into a number of stories in which he is cheerfully self-deprecating. Relating the details of a ski trip with friends, he says, “They said, ‘Come on, we’ll take care of you.’ I couldn’t even get down to the lift--my legs were out to here,” he describes, thrusting out his arms. “I had to walk down the hill, and this employee in green overalls yells up, ‘Are you okay?’ And I yell back, ’Oh, yes, fine, I just can’t f****** ski!”


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